Players make Gridiron worthwhile

Published 10:34 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

In 2007, The Demopolis Times released an annual publication that was inserted into the newspaper. It was several pages long, printed on traditional newsprint paper, laid out in tab format and filled with practice pictures and stories previewing the forthcoming seasons of local high school football teams.

When I arrived in Demopolis in Feb. 2008, I was told that publication would fall under my list of responsibilities. My goal was to turn it into something more.

This week, we released our fourth installment of the revamped Gridiron edition.

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What was once a newspaper tab filled with practice art has been remodeled in the spirit of Athlon Sports preseason magazines with our own personal twist.

The undertaking has required legwork from me, creativity from Jason Cannon, a keen photographic eye from Michael Clements and assorted contributions from a number of other people over a four-year span.

What has resulted is an annual work that has become an August staple in Marengo County. Its release is anticipated highly countywide — at least, that’s the feedback we have been getting from players, coaches and community members alike.

This may sound as if we are patting ourselves on the back. But, in actuality, we are very thankful to the community who embraces our product and the young men who make it worthwhile.

In 2008, we put Bryan Taylor on the cover and were very pleased with the product. In the years since, Martaze Jackson, DaMarcus James and Steven Foster have graced the cover of subsequent Gridiron editions.

What serves as a gift from us to the community is, in a lot of ways, a gift for ourselves. We get to spend time getting to know the young men who bring the publication to life. They come from all over the county and, for one August Saturday, converge in a single location for the purpose of the Gridiron photo shoot.

We get to learn their personalities and the best way to portray them in print. Then, we get to tell the stories of them and their teammates.

Sometimes we have a theme that ties all of the pictures together. Sometimes, we may just let the photos and stories speak for themselves.

Either way, we feel our annual Gridiron publication has come a long way in four years and we are happy to offer it to a community who loves its sports and cares about its young people. Thank you for letting us take part in your joy and here’s wishing everyone an exciting high school football season.

Jeremy D. Smith is the community editor of the Demopolis Times.